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Concerned Colleagues: Licensure and the Impaired Practitioner

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 63 minutes
Recorded Date: November 04, 2020
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  • Overview of Addiction
  • Current State of Lawyer Well-Being
  • Current Causes for Difficulties
  • Lawyer Assistance Programs
  • OED Discipline: Grievances & Complaints
  • OED Diversion Pilot Program
  • Process & Policies: Path to Lawyer Well-Being
  • Disreputable or Gross Misconduct
Runtime: 1 hour, 3 minutes
Recorded: November 4, 2020


Substance abuse and addictions can affect any practitioner, in any setting, and at anytime. Left untreated, they can destroy careers and lives. This program will teach individuals how to recognize the impaired practitioner, provide various resources to assist in the recovery, and also identify the possible disciplinary implications of an impaired practitioners' conduct.

The presenters will provide attendees with an understanding of addiction as an illness, help them recognize the characteristics of various addictions and how they affect the legal professional, spot warning signs of, and learn how to begin the conversation with, an impaired practitioner, educate on the interface between potential practitioner disciplinary action and impairment as well as possible reporting obligations, and identify resources available to the impaired legal professional and their colleagues.

This program was recorded on November 4th, 2020.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Dahlia George

United States Patent and Tradmark Office

Dahlia George first joined the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in January 2005 as a Trademark Examining Attorney. In January 2008, she joined the USPTO Office of General Law where she investigated and prosecuted EEOC complaints, grievances, and Merit Systems Protection Bureau appeals. She also responded to subpoenas for Government witnesses and documents, investigated Federal Tort Claims Act claims and IG inquiries, and handled Reasonable Accommodation requests for legal sufficiency. In addition, she was the USPTO FOIA Officer. Since January 2011 to the present, she joined the USPTO Office of Enrollment and Discipline where she investigates grievances and complaints alleging misconduct by patent and trademark practitioners; conducts moral character and “fitness to practice” applications for individuals seeking registration before the USPTO; and heads the Diversion Pilot Program for impaired practitioners.

Before working at the USPTO, Ms. George was an Assistant Attorney General for the N.H. Office of Attorney General where she investigated and prosecuted professional misconduct cases against licensed professionals such as physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers, before their respective licensing boards.

Prior to her stint as a N.H. Assistant Attorney General, she served a tour of duty as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) in the United States Air Force where she served as a prosecutor for the United States in courts-martial and administrative discharge proceedings; handled procurement and claims matters; and advised base and wing commanders on the legality of base activities such as bingo night and mess activities. Later she was promoted to the position of Area Defense Counsel for three bases covering 15,000 military and civilian personnel, where she represented military personnel in courts-martial (felony trials) and discharge proceedings.

She is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia.

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Dr. Michael Barnes

Chief Clinical Officer
Foundry Treatment Center

Dr. Mike Barnes received his BA in Psychology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He received his Masters of Education degree in Rehabilitation Counseling at the University of Pittsburgh. He received his Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy at Florida State University. Dr. Barnes is a Nationally Certified Master Addiction Counselor and a Licensed Professional Counselor in Colorado. He is a member of NAADAC: The Association for Addiction Professionals and the International Association of Family Addiction Professionals. Dr. Barnes is also a Diplomate in the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress.

Dr. Barnes accepted his first full-time counseling position in 1982, as an addiction counselor at First Step of Sarasota, in Sarasota, Florida. Since that time he has worked as an addiction counselor, EAP (Employee Assistance) Counselor and couple and family therapist in a number of clinical settings. He has also worked as an administrator and clinical supervisor in an adolescent residential treatment program, a crisis stabilization unit, and an acute care psychiatric hospital. Most recently Dr. Barnes served as the Clinical Program Manager for Residential Services at CeDAR (The Center for Dependency, Addiction, and Rehabilitation), a nationally recognized addiction treatment center at the University of Colorado Hospital, in Aurora, Colorado.

Dr. Barnes is the Chief Clinical Officer at Foundry Treatment Center in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Working with his clinical team at Foundry, Dr. Barnes is developing a trauma-integrated treatment process. His areas of responsibility included clinical oversight of all clinical programs, new program development, clinical supervision, and oversight of clinical record keeping. Dr. Barnes continues to present at national conferences, invited presentations, and as a guest lecturer at universities on the subjects of trauma, addiction, and the impact of trauma and addiction on family systems.

As a counselor educator, Dr. Barnes served as an adjunct professor at Florida State University, Penn State-Altoona College, and the University of South Florida before accepting a full-time faculty position in 2006 as Assistant Professor and Training Coordinator at Argosy University in Sarasota, Florida. In 2010 he moved to the University of Colorado Denver, where he served as an Assistant Clinical Professor and Training Coordinator in the Masters in Counseling Program.

Dr. Barnes' area of clinical and research interest has been on the impact of traumatic events on family system functioning. At Florida State, he completed his dissertation on the "Secondary Trauma of Parents of Children Who Experienced an Injury that Required Critical Care Treatment on a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)." He has written numerous scholarly articles and chapters in academic textbooks to expand counselor understanding of family trauma and how best to treat this issue. Over the years, Dr. Barnes has recognized that the family members of addicted individuals are required to live through a number of traumatic and life-threatening situations that are so often a part of active addiction.

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Sarah Myers, Esq.

Executive Director
Colorado Lawyer Assistance Program

Sarah Myers is the Executive Director of the Colorado Lawyer Assistance Program. She earned her B.A. at the University of Richmond, M.A. at Naropa University, and J.D. at the University of Denver. She is a Colorado licensed attorney, licensed marriage and family therapist, and licensed addiction counselor.

Ms. Myers is also a licensed post-graduate level teacher and certified trauma and abuse psychotherapist. She has over 20 years of experience specializing in stress management, psychoneuroimmunology, compassion fatigue, professional burnout, and behavioral health issues for legal professionals.

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Tracy L. Kepler

Risk Control Consulting Director

Tracy L. Kepler is a Risk Control Director for CNA’s Lawyers Insurance Program. In this role, she designs and develops content and distribution of risk control initiatives relevant to the practice of law. Professor Kepler lectures frequently at CNA-sponsored events and at state and local bar associations and national seminars hosted by industry-leading organizations. She also writes articles focusing on law firm risk control and professional responsibility issues.

Prior to joining CNA, Professor Kepler served as the Director of the American Bar Association’s Center for Professional Responsibility (CPR), providing national leadership in developing and interpreting standards and scholarly resources in legal and judicial ethics, professional regulation, professionalism, client protection, professional liability and attorney well-being. From 2014-2016, Professor Kepler served as an Associate Solicitor in the Office of General Counsel for the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), where she concentrated her practice in the investigation, prosecution and appeal of patent/trademark practitioner disciplinary matters before the Agency, U.S. District Courts and Federal Circuit, provided policy advice on ethics and discipline related matters to senior management, and drafted and revised Agency regulations. From 2000-2014, she served as Senior Litigation Counsel for the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC), where she investigated and prosecuted cases of attorney misconduct.

Professor Kepler has served in various capacities, including as President, on the Board of the National Organization of Bar Counsel (NOBC), a non-profit organization of legal professionals whose members enforce ethics rules that regulate the professional conduct of lawyers who practice law in the United States and abroad. Professor Kepler is an Adjunct Professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, Georgetown University Law Center and Loyola School of Law (Chicago) teaching Legal Ethics. Committed to the promotion and encouragement of professional responsibility and attorney well-being throughout her career, Professor Kepler has served on the ABA’s Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs, where she was a Commission member, a member of its Advisory Committee, the Chair of its Education and Senior Lawyer Committees, and also a member of its National Conference Planning Committee. She is a member of the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being and an author of its Well-Being Report. She is also an Advisory Board Member of the Mindfulness in Law Society. She is a graduate of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and received her law degree from New England School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts.

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